Raleigh, NC – We’re into the heart of spring, when tradition people’s thoughts turn to love as they see flowers and trees exploding with blooms of color all around them. However for the roughly 40 million people in the country struggling with allergies, nothing kills a thought of love like a sneeze, stuffy nose or sore throat.
The primary trigger for spring allergy is pollen; tiny grains released into the air by trees, grasses weeds and flower needed to fertilize other plants. However when those grains get into the nose of someone who is allergic, the immune system switches into hyper-drive. The immune system considers those grains as invaders and releases antibodies which attack the allergens, leading to the release of histamines into the bloodstream. The histamines trigger the runny nose, scratchy eyes, and all the other symptoms of allergies.
Unfortunately, the only way to really avoid seasonal allergies is to move to a place that doesn’t have grass, trees, flowers or weeds or lock yourself in a sealed, air conditioned room until everything has bloomed and the pollen is gone. Luckily, Mark Gregory, Vice-President of Pharmacy and Government Relations for Kerr Drug has a few suggestions to help allergy sufferers make it through the spring.
1. Take medications at least 30 minutes prior to going outdoors. Consult your doctor to determine if you need a prescription allergy medication. If you don’t need a prescription, the pharmacist can recommend several over-the-counter brand name or generic medications that are very effective. Over-the-counter allergy drugs include:
a. Antihistamines reduce sneezing and sniffling by lowering the amount of histamine (remember the chemical produced) in the body.
b. Decongestants clear mucus out of the nasal passages to relieve congestion and swelling.
c. Antihistamine/decongestants combine the effects of both medications.
2. Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high. That’s usually between 10am-4pm.
3. Shut the windows in your house and in your car on days when pollen counts are high. Use the air conditioning and don’t use a fan that will draw pollen into the house and car.
4. Clean the air filter in your home often.
5. Vacuum several times a week as pollen can collect in the carpet.
6. Wash your hair after going outside because pollen can collect there.“There is no magical cure for spring allergies but with medication and a change in some household habits there are a number of ways to make life more bearable,” says Gregory.